Almost exactly four years ago, Aaron Merritt was honorably discharged from the Army after three tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was sick with ulcerative colitis, though, and counted on the doctors at the Nashville VA Hospital to take care of him. They didn’t, and Merritt ultimately died on October 28, 2014, because he didn’t receive blood tests that would have shown the drugs the VA physicians prescribed were complicated by another condition that suppressed Merritt’s immune system.

Merritt’s parents, who live in Arizona, engaged BPJ attorney Trey Thacherwho sued the Department of Defense and the Nashville VA for wrongful death, and won a $2.5 million settlement. The Nashville Tennessean tells the sad story of Aaron’s death and his parents’ grief —

As Aaron’s mother, Carol Merritt, told the reporter, “Now this is settled. We will go on with our lives. But we’ll never be the same. The pain is just as strong as it was the day Aaron died.”

Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Merritt Photo courtesy of the Merritt Family